First, watch this video...
Now. Isn't that some jaw dropping, awe-inspiring beauty? I was speechless. I was moved. Having had one of those moments of presence and gratitude; I felt the urge to show anyone and everyone I knew. Which is a familiar urge when you're used to Instagramming your life a majority of the day. Why was I wondering if I should or should not? Because I had made a commitment to get off of instagram for the time being... I've been having a love-hate relationship with it for sometime. 'Sometime' literally being years.
The past decade has been spent using it to build my brand, Teddies for Bettys. In addition to using it half-ass to talk about my new business, I employed it as an outlet to rant and muse about my personal life. I was beginning to feel like I lived on the damn thing! I was starting to feel beholden to Instagram. I began asking myself, "Can I build a business and not use social media?? Will I be relevant without it? I'm not interested in being a social media influencer, so do I even need it? Is that even a thing anymore???"
When considering and pondering some of life's deepest existential questions, I somehow reminded myself that I had at least 55 other more productive things to do than spend time brain-fatiguing over it any longer. AND the answer seemed obvious, be done and delete your account... So I did. It took forever. These fuckers do not make it easy to part ways! After disabling my main account, I tried to disable my personal account-Instagram wasn't having it. So I kept that one, but removed the app from my phone. Felt a freedom like no other. Until 12 hours later, a New Zealander was giving a speech and when heckled by some older man listening, she gracefully kept talking. She calmly replied to him with "okay, Boomer" and resumed her speech. DEAD. I wanted to gram that shit! I wanted the world to know how funny that was, and I wanted them to know that I told them about it. It would not be the story about climate-change and a young woman leading the way for a better world for New Zealand while calling out her counterparts, instead it would be Ashley on Instagram referencing a story about someone saying 'boomer.' It would be hilarious because Ashley's Instagram stories are hilarious. Ashley is hilarious. Then everyone would start messaging me and I would have hours of responding to attend to...
It's a fucking thing, y'all. My brain was starting to think in 15 second segments while also looking for a way to engage and feel busy and receive a little validation and praise in the process. (I have a lot more to say about receiving validation from social media/dating/external sources. But for now, I focus.)
So here I was, making moves to free myself and all of you from my daily tangents that may or may not entertain and I was heading to Italy where I wouldn't be posting about it. Nothing. It begged the question; did the trip even happen if it wasn't on instagram? There was only one way to find out.
Turns out, a lot happened that I would have deemed gram worthy. Not the views and the food and the wine, though. All of that has been beyond and other level, but no one cares about that. Not me at least. I wanted to post about the shit show that was travel and delays and lost luggage. The dark side of travel. The comedy in loss. The awareness in, I'm really no one even if I have TSA pre-check and pre-boarding options.
The universe gives a fuck who I am, this much I believe, but that doesn't mean it won't enjoy watching me get off a plane with my skirt tucked in my panties and watch me walk across the airport with my ass out...
The universe is always kind enough to send a man that will follow me all the way to baggage claim to let me know so I can adjust myself after everyone has already seen my white ass. The universe loves me enough to teach me how to survive humiliation. I'm here to deliver that message. That life is humbling. Not the message we all universally know; that food and wine in Italy is better than anywhere else.
I wanted to update y'all and give you the play by play from the minute we were delayed in Detroit to the hours we sat on the plane before taking off to landing in Amsterdam and missing our connecting flight. The hour long lines, the same conversations with travel agents repeating the same question, 'can we see your original boarding pass?' to having a very much unplanned lunch in Zurich to finally landing in Florence - without my luggage.
Admittedly, at this point I didn't want to instagram - I wanted to cry. 36 hours of travel and no luggage was an ultimate test after the day I had. I could see the humor in the delays, lines and european travel agents. I could not see the humor in me not having my luggage. Or the woman at lost and found who, for reasons I'll blame on jetlag, was taking me to my edge.
I was convinced she wasn't being nice. I wanted to tell her, 'Be nice. You don't know the kind of life I've had. Just let me have my bag. Help me, I'm poor.'
I knew enough to know that playing the victim wouldn't get me anywhere... nor was it going to help the situation. So I said okay... cool. I'm in Italy. No big deal. I made it safely - They'll deliver my luggage tomorrow. I can handle one night.
If you'd asked me at any point in my life which I'd rather experience, walking across the airport with my ass out or a 36 hour travel day that resulted in lost luggage, I would have chosen the latter. Humiliation sounds impossible. I was so wrong. Not having control and practicing detachment has been a mother fucker.
I rode the wave though... I laughed. I got frustrated. I surrendered. Then I repeated the process... for 3 days in Tuscany. I meditated. I made pasta. I made phone calls to all the airlines. I tasted wine. I told myself I was lucky to experience luxury problems - No luggage in Italy? Who cares! I'm in Italy! I was practicing my thought management. I did just record my episode, Your Thoughts Are Your Problems. Change your thoughts, you can change your life... I know the tools. I know what to do.
At this point, instagramming really was the last thing on my mind. The story was drawing out... Ashley's luggage? Oh, I lost interest in that after the first day. Nothing's happened. Same report everyday... still doesn't have it. Where's the suspense? The thrill? The humor?
I needed to walk. I needed fresh air. I needed anything other than sitting in my thoughts at the start of my day thinking about my luggage and the conversation I would have to have with my invisalign doctor about needing new trays. Again. This was just getting more frustrating...
The walk was beautiful. I had a moment of regret that I wasn't able to run while in Tuscany. I had made plans to do it after all. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to! Running 40-45 miles in the Tuscan hills. Wasn't meant to be. Let it go. You can come back. Breathe in the air.
The more I walked, the more I thought and the more I let go. Then I saw a view unlike any other. I was literally beside myself. I started recording because I couldn't believe my own eyes. Afterwards, I stood there thinking about the world we live in and the isolated moments we are offered; seeing the sun rise above the tuscan hills almost moved me to tears. I wasn't only grateful, but I was humbled. I was reminded how small I really am and how my problems are trivial. That's when that urge revealed itself to show you all on instagram. I couldn't keep this view all to myself. That we all need to see more beautiful.
Plus, I wanted to publically dispute whoever said 'Texas is God's country'. Clearly, they've never been to Italy.